Sometimes visitors ask why the modest slogan, “your starting point?” Why not something more boastful, more hyperbolic? The answer: Strategies vary, but they all start here.
The reason is, unless you are in a very small (a dozen or fewer) participants, following the NFL confidence pool picks from WinThatPool will probably not be enough to win a pool. But it is an excellent place to start, and an apt benchmark against which to measure any other methodology. Consider the different optimal strategies for a year-end prize and for a weekly prize.
Year-end Prize Strategy
WinThatPool’s picks are meant to maximize your expected number of points over the course of a season. You will notice that many other participants in your pool use confidence ranks quite similar to these. So don’t be surprised if each week one or more people in your pool use confidence ranks identical to these. By year-end, differences will be down to a few random outcomes, and possibly a mis-entered pick or two. So consider these ranks your starting point, and deviate from one or more of these picks a few times during the season, no more. The easiest thing to do is follow these ranks to a T for the first dozen weeks or so. If you are not in the lead, use the Weekly Prize Strategy described below during the last week or two.
Weekly Prize Strategy
All things being equal, every entry’s chance of winning a prize is 1/n, where n is the number of entries. For example, in a pool with 85 entries, each entry should win once every 85 times, or once in five NFL seasons. While WinThatPool’s ranks are dominant over the course of an entire season, in any single week they will almost never win a prize (their chance of winning is much lower than 1/n; in an 85 player pool you might wait a decade or longer before you win a weekly prize). Instead, start with WinThatPool’s picks and then take a bold deviation – pick the underdog in one of the top three games (rank 16, 15, or 14 in a 16 game week) and leave the confidence rank unchanged. By doing so, you will have almost no chance to win the cumulative prize at season-end, but your chance of winning a weekly prize will be much better than 1/n.